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THE MAN

About The Production
The original inspiration for The Man came to co-producer Bill Straus when he was struck by the versatility of Eugene Levy's acting credits. He suggested to New Line Executive Vice President of Production Kent Alterman that the studio find a starring vehicle for the actor that would match his particular comedic talents. The search led the executives to a script by screenwriters Jim Piddock and Margaret Oberman that concentrated on two disparate characters – an affable dental salesman and a hard-edged federal agent – who are forced to work together and who eventually grow to tolerate each other.

During a meeting with producer Rob Fried, Straus mentioned the idea of The Man, as well as his hope to interest Eugene Levy in the project. Fried had been struck by how Levy's approach to his work had evolved and found the plot for The Man very intriguing as he began to think of the actor in the role of the hapless salesman, Andy Fiddler. It seemed like a perfect fit.

"The idea of an unlikely civilian, portrayed by Eugene, getting caught up with this hard-core undercover federal operation seemed irresistible,” says Fried.

Fortunately, Levy agreed and signed up to star. With Levy committed, Fried needed to find the right person to bring the story to the screen. Director Les Mayfield, a veteran of such action comedies as Blue Streak, got the call.

"Les is funny and it's easy to make him laugh,” says Fried. "He has shown in his work that he has the ability to handle large scale productions and make them funny.” With Levy and Mayfield on board, New Line Cinema agreed to finance and distribute the film.

Pre-production began in earnest, as Levy, Fried and Mayfield turned their attention to the script itself. First, Levy provided input into the script to hone the unique voice of his character. The actor readily admits that he enjoyed the role of Andy Fiddler. "I love the character of Andy because I like sad sack-y roles and I like playing guys with a good heart,” says Levy. "I don't purposely look for these roles, but in this character I saw a great situation where you have this decent, well-intentioned guy who gets involved in a complete and utter nightmare. Most people would just pray never to go through a day like this in their life. And that was kind of the fun thing. It's just this collision of two worlds that was very intriguing for me.” Then the focus shifted to the story itself.

"We wanted to give it a ‘noir-ish – crime story' quality,” says Fried. "Therefore, we spent a lot of time working to ensure that the story's dramatic elements were equal to the comedic ones.” The classic film Midnight Run was an example of the tone and scope that the filmmakers aimed to replicate with the relationship between Federal Agent Derrick Vann and Andy Fiddler at the heart of the story.

Fried saw the character of Andy as "a traveling angel who convinces Vann that life is worth embracing.” Charged with balancing the story's comic and action elements, screenwriter Steve Carpenter, who had worked with Les Mayfield on Blue Streak, kept that idea in mind.

"They are complete opposites,” says Carpenter. "Vann is an isolated character. He trusts no one. That's the theme of his character. Andy is a very social man who has never met anyone that didn't eventually become a friend. Vann changes when he's forced to work with Andy. Soon you begin to see that Andy is having an effect on Vann. A mutual respect takes root by the end of the film.”

Carpenter spent nine months revising the screenplay, with a great deal of attention paid to making the character of Derrick Vann believable as an undercover agent. In an earlier draft, Vann was younger and less extreme.

"Vann is smart and tough,” says Carpenter. "He just wants to get those guns back so badly that he is willing to shoot a civilian if<

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